They say that reading is part of writing, so I think I can count some of my recent reading as work on “Felix”. I’ve read a bunch of stuff about Lovecraft and ancient astronauts recently, which is something touched on in my story.
When I first learnt of Erich von Däniken’s “Chariots of the Gods”, I was immediately convinced of it’s veracity. However, as I read more, all of the claims disappeared in a puff of smoke. This lead to my interest in scepticism.
I have long since stopped reading the work of the people who perpetuate von Däniken’s ideas. These proponents haven’t come up with any convincing evidence for their hypothesis. Nonetheless, I am still fascinated with the idea. In part, it is because the idea is, to me, plausible.
Recently I started to follow Jason Colavito blog about ancient astronauts and pseudo archaeology. See: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog. He takes a sceptical stance and investigates claims in some detail. One his major claims is that people who make claims about ancient astronauts were inspired by the stories of H. P. Lovecraft. He published the book “The Cult of Alien Gods” about his ideas. See: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/cult-of-alien-gods.html.
One of the disturbing aspects of many the ancient astronaut claims is their inherent racism. Although it doesn’t often appear overtly, many of the arguments used boil down to “those people” were not capable of building something so impressive. Lovecraft often expressed racist views, which many of his modern day fans are uncomfortable with.
Over the years I’ve come across many stories and movies that invoke the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors to Earth in the distant past. As noted above, H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos stories involve extraterrestrial visitors who have influenced history. He wrote most of these stories between 1926 and 1936.
Recently I came across an earlier story, Jack London’s “The Red One”, which was published in 1918. It concerns a man who finds an alien artefact deep in the interior of Guadalcanal. The descriptions of the natives in the story are quite racist, although it isn’t clear to me if this reflects London’s views or those of the character in the story. The story is available from Project Gutenberg. See: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/788.
Several of Arthur C. Clarke stories have ancient alien visitations as a back ground. Most famous are the 1951 short story “The Sentinel” and the 1968 novel and movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentinel_(short_story).
I hope to soon add my story “Felix” to this list.
In the past, some scientists have taken the idea seriously. Most notable was Carl Sagan, who published papers on the subject in the early 1960s and later was involved with the SETI project. Since pseudoscience has taken over the ancient astronaut hypothesis, few scientists will take a serious look at the possibility. If you know of a serious scientific study of this, please let me know.
I remain intrigued by the idea of alien visitations in the past. For now it seems that it can only be explored in fiction. Some day some thing may show up to validate the hypothesis, but it does seem that not even the advocates have made any serious attempts to find that evidence.
I would like to explore this idea more in my stories and movies.